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No criminal charges for altered test scores at local school

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Scott County prosecutors say no criminal charges will be filed in the case of standardized tests altered at a local elementary school, because they cannot identify the culprit.

Scott County Attorney Michael Walton said Davenport Police were asked to conduct a criminal investigation after school district officials voluntarily reported irregularities with some Iowa Assessment Tests at Madison Elementary School.

District officials found a high number of erasures on answer sheets submitted for third, fourth and fifth-grade students at the school.  The changes appeared to be focused on tests included in the state’s No Child Left Behind reporting.  Davenport Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Art Tate said it was clear the students did not make the erasures and corrections on the answer sheets.

Although multiple people had access to the completed tests, Walton said all of those people have denied involvement with the alterations.

“There appears to be no protocol that adequately limited or documented access to the completed tests. Without the ability to prove that a specific individual accessed the tests at or near the time they were altered, it is not possible to identify with sufficient certainty the individual that made the alterations,” Walton said.

Since the state would be burdened to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and evidence to overcome that requirement did not appear to be available, the criminal investigation was closed.

“This evidentiary gap is very likely fatal to any criminal case and therefore additional investigation would be futile,” Walton said.

The results of the Davenport Police investigation do not affect the separate investigation into the matter by the Iowa Department of Education.